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Rethinking Aluminum

post #1 of 60
Thread Starter 
Aluminum alloy frames has been much maligned in so many articles/threads that I've read over the last few years. Carbon seems to be taken over in the light and stiff category, and titanium and steel are holding ground for the comfort factor. I ride a steel frame all summer, but I have hung it up for the winter and have been getting familiar with my 4-year old aluminum "b" bike the past few weeks. Have my rides been any slower? Not at all. Have I been beat up and sore after 3 hours in the saddle? Not in the least. Is the Aluminum dead after about 15,000 miles of hard use? Not even close. My aluminum frame is a low end Pinarello Surprise (7005 T-6) frame which is nothing special or particulary light, but it has held up very well to dirt, sand, rain, snow, road salt, general neglect and the fact that it's been towing my 200+ lbs around for 4+ years now. Aluminum certainly isn't the material of choice by serious cyclists any more, but before I plunk down 2k on a carbon frame, I'm going to think long and hard about some of the high tech aluminum and scandium frames that can be had for less than half the price. An aluminum frame fans still out there?
post #2 of 60

Re: Rethinking Aluminum

I may well be aluminium's biggest fan on this forum. There is nothing wrong with aluminium and most of the issues compared to carbon are perceived, not true.
post #3 of 60

Re: Rethinking Aluminum

All my bikes are aluminum.

a Klein, 2 Cannondales, and a Raleigh I just got today!
post #4 of 60

Re: Rethinking Aluminum

Aluminium Annoymous (AA) support group... Headed by BobbyOCR and PeterF!

I am in the Alu camp too. When I got my bike, I just felt there's a major premium being paid for CF. For someone getting back to cycling, I thought I should tune my engine first and not over capitalise until some later point. So far I don't have any complaints and think Alu is good for the money at this point in time.

Although I do like the Cannondale SystemSIX with half and half combo of CF and Alu on the frame. Very innovative.
post #5 of 60

Re: Rethinking Aluminum

I'm a big alu fan. After riding a full carbon bike for a year, I realised that I had paid a major, undeserved premium to ride carbon. I sold the bike, bought a CAAD9, and haven't looked back. I'm very happy with my choice. Just remember that demand, not necessarily quality or function, dictates price. Carbon is in demand because it is the latest thing, and because of aggressive, effective marketing.
post #6 of 60

Re: Rethinking Aluminum

I never knew aluminium was being maligned (its just a metal) And to anyone who passionately thinks there material of choice is superior to any other and its some kind of war needs to grow up!

Aluminium is inexpensive compared to all other materials and it works perfectly fine. I have heard from a local pro that if he didn't have to ride his CF bike for his team he would be riding aluminium because its "more reliable, stiffer and a lot less expensive".

I ride aluminium and my next bike will probably be a soloist (aluminium) or a scott cr1. It just depends on how they fit me and what the value of each is like.
post #7 of 60

Re: Rethinking Aluminum

When steel was starting to lose it's appeal, I stuck up for it, and now that aluminium is losing favour, I've become a bit of an aluminium crusader. My 3 main 'good' bikes are 2 alu and 1 steel

Since Scott and Cervelo (apparently) successfully started producing sub-900g gram frames, just about every weight weeny and "semi-serious" rider thinks they have to have a sub-1kg frame, which obviously means aluminium is losing appeal. When good carbon frames, such as the Looks and Times were around the 1300g to 1400g mark, the weight difference was negligible, but now the weenies can't stand the thought of riding a 1350g+ alu frame. There was a guy on one of the forums who didn't want a carbon Soloist because it was too heavy (i think about 1100g)!!!

anyway, to ramble the obvious: aluminium is WAY better value than good carbon, can be stiff, can be comfortable, can be light enough, and won't be degraded by UV light. I had a scandium 57cm Ciocc Challenger for a few weeks, with carbon seat stays, which was 1214g!!! I also had a 56cm Cinelli made with Columbus' entry level aluminium (Zonal), which was 1390g.
post #8 of 60

Re: Rethinking Aluminum

Quote:
Originally Posted by donm
I'm a big alu fan. After riding a full carbon bike for a year, I realised that I had paid a major, undeserved premium to ride carbon. I sold the bike, bought a CAAD9, and haven't looked back. I'm very happy with my choice. Just remember that demand, not necessarily quality or function, dictates price. Carbon is in demand because it is the latest thing, and because of aggressive, effective marketing.
I'm an Alu fan also. In fact aside from the steel intro frame I purchased when I first started cycling 5 years ago the 4 bikes I've owned since have all been full Alu (CF fork of course) and my next one is likely to be also. I've only thrown my leg over a Giant TCR for a test ride and was not terrifically impressed. I'd take the Soloist Team for significantly less. I think the premium for CF bikes is also driven by the sponsorship of UCI pro and domestic teams who receive many free bikes. Us the common consumer ends up paying for a fraction of their bikes and other high end equipment.

JS
post #9 of 60

Re: Rethinking Aluminum

Aluminum does make for a great frame material. My favourite bike of all time is the "whippy" vitus 979 that I used to race. It was cheap and wickedly light for the time. I'd buy a modern Scandium frame, for sure.

And forget the claims of "harshness" and all the other mythical nonsense associated with aluminum.

I think that the true drawbacks of aluminum are the large diameters necessary for stiffness (aerodynamics) and the lack of toughness. Toughness defined as the ability to absorb impacts (i.e., it's easy to dent). If you can live with those, then it's an awesome material!

John Swanson
www.bikephysics.com
post #10 of 60

Re: Rethinking Aluminum

Ali rocks...Carbon is too easy to charge a premium for. Besides, I like to feel it when my tyres go flat. All the bull**** about comfort on a carbon bike...who rides a racing bike for comfort? Maybe my grandmother...
post #11 of 60

Re: Rethinking Aluminum

I've been a big fan of carbon fiber (Trek 5200) for years and have sort of looked down on aluminum....until I got a KHS 900 (deal on eBay). What an eye opener! The KHS is far stiffer than the carbon fiber Trek, and I actually enjoy riding it more. For a "bad weather" bike, I got a KHS 700 (similar frame design to the KHS 900) and again love the stiff, responsive ride. I'm actually considering selling the carbon fiber Trek and just riding aluminum. I'm no expert, and a lot depends on the design of the frame, but I've become a big fan of aluminium frames.

The other transition I've made is discovering the joys of riding a double over a triple. I thought it would be a tough transition but it's not, and I'm becoming more of a fan of the double over the triple. So far there haven't been any hills that I could do with the triple that I can't do with the double.
post #12 of 60
Thread Starter 

Re: Rethinking Aluminum

Is Scandium worth the extra $ over something like a 7003 double butted frame?
post #13 of 60

Re: Rethinking Aluminum

Old school straight tube AL frames were maligned (by some) as delivering harsh rides. I've ridden bunches of those types of rames with zero discomfort, but I've been known to be a hard ass! In recent years, manufactures such as Cannondale have been doing increadible things with AL frames; wishbone seatstays using ovalized tubes to name one big advancement. Also, many frames are AL with carbon seat and/or chain stays. Seems like the only folks who rag on AL are those seeking to further the bling factor of carbon frames. Nothing beats an AL frame for pure power transfer especially in the sprint.
post #14 of 60

Re: Rethinking Aluminum

I am a big Aluminium fan. I would love my next bike to be a custom steel frame but I still think that is a couple of years off.

I broke my frame on the weekend (Magnesium) and will be replacing it with a Aluminium frame.

BTW. I have seen some carbon MTB frames that were made by a UK guy that makes a large majority of the F1 carbon components. After seeing the quality of them the carbon bikes on the market are immitation crap. He also said that he would build a bike frame from aluminium and had only used carbon because that is what he had "lying around".
post #15 of 60

Re: Rethinking Aluminum

Notice a lot of the great sprinters stay with Aluminium/Scandium. Chippo nearly always rode an Ali bike. The Liquigas team opted for the all aluminium frame for 2006 (with carbon fork of course) when they could have had carbon seatstays. Carbon fibre frames have been around for a long time...and they have taken a long time to get right...don't be sucked in by the spin. I'd rather have more rigidity than save a mere 300gms...
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